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Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

African Union pressures holdout Darfur rebels

May 16, 2006

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— The African Union increased pressure on Sudan's holdout rebels to sign a deal ending Darfur's three-year civil war and appealed Monday for a stronger peacekeeping force to monitor it.

The European Union also urged the holdouts to go along with the deal already signed by the government and the main rebel group. The holdouts had been given until Monday to sign.

AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said the 53-nation bloc will push for a U.N. travel ban and asset freeze targeting those who try to undermine the Darfur peace process and commit human rights violations in the vast, arid region.

Abdel Wahid Nur, leader of a splinter faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, and Khalil Ibrahim of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement have resisted international pressure to join the peace agreement signed May 5.

The signing culminated two years of AU mediation and a last-minute push by the United States, Britain and others. Its prospects, though, have been dimmed by the failure of all rebels to sign and by continued fighting in Darfur.

The treaty called for a cease-fire to take effect 72 hours after signing.

The two holdout groups are demanding additional commitments from the government on power-sharing, security arrangements and compensation for the victims of a conflict that has killed at least 180,000 people and forced more than 2 million to flee their homes.

The AU, however, is reluctant to reopen negotiations on the peace deal because that could derail it, Deputy Commissioner for Peace and Security El-Ghassim Wane told The Associated Press.

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